Cover Reveal: The Lost Boy's Gift by Kimberly Willis Holt; illustrations by Jonathan Bean

Hello, Kimberly Willis Holt and Jonathan Bean! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Lost Boy’s Gift. I could not put it down. I'm excited to talk about it during upcoming presentations. Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful novel. 

I wrote the words in purple, and Kimberly Willis Holt wrote the words in black. 

Jonathan Bean’s cover illustration for The Lost Boy’s Gift captures the setting and the entire mood of the story-fun and whimsical, but a hint to Daniel’s emotional struggle.

If you visited While-a-Way Lane, you would want to stop by Tilda Butter’s house for a cup of jasmine tea with her and Spider. Ask to take Fred for a walk, but only after you say hello to Snail who is probably munching on a lettuce leaf. Then head to the pond at the end of the lane, and maybe if it is dusk, and if you are lucky, you might get hugged by fireflies.

Daniel and Tilda Butter are very different in age and appearance, but they are kindred souls. They know what its like to be new to While-A-Way Lane. Both lost something before moving there, but both found their gifts there, too.

Story is a journey that may be outward-bound, but always leads to the heart. 

I wrote the words in purple, and Jonathan wrote the words in orange.  

The Lost Boy’s Gift’s cover illustration depicts a moment in the story that I knew, upon first reading, I wanted to illustrate. Not only is it a beautiful moment packed with imagery potential, it is also, to my reading, one of the turning points of the story. I won’t say any more about what’s going on there than that, but I’m very happy that that moment ended up making it onto the cover!
Kimberly Willis Holt writes beautifully about the small town Daniel moves to. I could picture small towns I grew up near or currently live near while reading The Lost Boy's Gift's manuscript. Observing the architecture of small towns is a pastime of mine. What distinguishes one town from another, one house from another? How do backyards compare with front yards, is one messier or cleaner than the other? The writing in The Lost Boy's Gift told me that Kimberly is attentive to these things. It made me want to grab pencil and paper and start describing the place she’d written about. Also, the town feels a bit like an old resort or summering place, one that has outlived its use as a vacation spot and is now inhabited year-round. Or at least that’s what I imagine. I’d be curious to know if Kimberly had that in mind. Kimberly? In any case, the setting exudes mystery.
School libraries will love the combination of writing and illustration in this book. As a kid I quietly mourned the sudden disappearance of illustration in the books I started reading as a middle-grader. This book contains small illustration oases throughout, perfect for readers adjusting to what might at first look like long, arid text-filled expanses. Also, Kimberly deals with some difficult subject matter with affecting lightness and humor. The emotional import of what’s happening to the characters snuck up on me, and was all the more impactful for that.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what was my favorite thing to illustrate from this story? Answer? A Ferris wheel! The town Daniel moves to has a Ferris wheel! Enough said.

Look for The Lost Boy's Gift on April 30, 2019. 


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